Letting go. I’ve had to do a lot of that over the last year. Well, honestly I’ve been doing it for a couple of years, just different things and at different levels. Almost 100% of what I’ve let go are things that brought negativity and ugliness into my life. Continue reading “Letting Go”
Blurb: In the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.
His body was never recovered.
Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…
… until Aiden returns.
Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.
As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?
It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.
I need to preface this by saying that this book was really well written. The lower rating is only because of my personal tastes.
A good portion of this book was intriguing and kept me interested. Then, somewhere along the way, things started to just get to be too much for me to swallow. There were so many different things going on, so many different motivations for different acts and so many of the characters end up being horrible on so many different levels. It is impossible to express the degree to which this was over the top, the characters that drove me crazy and why, without giving anything away.
When a story becomes so convoluted you can hardly follow, it doesn’t work for me. I was disappointed that this became that kind of a story because I loved the premise. I just do not like crazy, twisted, totally unrealistic solutions to a story.
Janie Leeds from Authentically 50 nominated me for a blogger award. I genuinely appreciate the thought so much, that she thinks what I do here is worthy of an award. That said, I’m gracefully declining, hopefully without offense.
Blog awards are nice and can be fun, but they just aren’t my thing. I do what I do because I enjoy it. I love photography and ranting and raving about books and being able to unload the garbage that runs around in my head on a regular basis and to sprinkle it all with the occasional platform for me to humbly brag about something I’m proud of. If any of that makes someone smile or think or makes them feel less alone in the world or inspires them, then that is just icing on a delicious cake.
I follow other bloggers that I find interesting for a variety of reasons, so trying to ever pick one that fits is always hard because they are all worthy for one reason or another. That is why that section of links is called “Awesomeness from Others”.
So instead, I’ll offer some animal cuteness.
Blurb: Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.
Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.
Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.
This was… strange. There were so many things going on and the sideline parts of the book “Kitten” at times made this difficult to follow. I think this was well written and I could never predict what was going to happen, but there was just so much that ended up being ridiculously over the top, I think it became too much.
It wasn’t awful and if you like some weird creepy in your stories, this may be worth it. I’m just not usually a fan of overblown, beyond twisted plot lines.
Blurb: Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.
When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.
I thought this was really awesome, probably one of the best crime/mystery dramas I’ve read.
The main character, Tracy, was incredibly well done. I’m often annoyed by how female police officers are portrayed. They are usually utterly cold and hard and completely flawless, weak and weepy and stupid, or horribly trampy. That is not the case here. She is solid and firmly grounded in humanity, not perfect but not a mess.
The main reasons I often struggle with giving a full 5 star rating to most crime or mystery dramas is because they tend to be over the top unrealistic or too simplistic and obvious because I know what was going to happen at every turn. This kept me interested from beginning to end and I was kept not knowing anything until it happened. This managed to do all of that and still gave a solid, unexpected end that maintained the believability and realism of the rest of the book.
I’ve been burned in the past on starting a new series only to find out by the time I got to book three that all the goods were in the first book or two and the rest are only slightly adjusted carbon copies, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed with this one that the rest of the books can continue the pattern that this one set.
Blurb: Loki Redmond is positive her grandfather’s 100 acre farm in Mississippi will be the perfect place for Jake Savior to heal after the murder of his wife and his banishment from law enforcement before they begin their partnership in Redmond Private Investigations.
But fate has other plans.
The discovery of a month old baby and young girl with no memory of her name, running from a man she calls The Devil, plunges them into danger. Loki’s Native American connection to the spirits makes her a target for the delusions of a madman who is determined to kill her.
Tension continues to rise when a special unit of the FBI enters the case, and Jake is forced to decide what he believes in. Can he change the future seen by Special Agent Brian Wilkes, or is Loki destined to die?
By chapter 3, I had to put this down and go back and research through whatever I could find to see if I had somehow missed the fact that this was actually a book that landed square in the middle of an existing series, but I never found anything that alluded to that being the case. So, that said, I was confused and frustrated because it was written in a way that EVERY character had huge amounts of back story that the reader is never privy to, and there are a ton of characters in this book. So many, that it was at times confusing. In a book that IS in the middle of a series, that fact wouldn’t be an issue, but because this was a standalone, it made it incredibly difficult to understand or connect with the characters.
Outside of my issues with the lack of backstory and info on the characters was the fact that the story just seemed so incredibly unbelievable. I generally love books that bring a paranormal element into the story, but a story that is set in what is apparently a normal world rather than a paranormal one, it was so not believable that so many of the characters had special abilities. I would have even been willing to buy a special division in the FBI having a group, but to then throw in several other characters that just so happened to also have abilities stretched my ability to believe too far, especially when there is no rationale provided for the clustering.
The other big issue I had was with the multitude of weird, random other potential plot lines that didn’t really have anything at all to do with this book. Some of which are really the back story issues and others were just tossed out there with no real impact on the plot of THIS story. There was one with Rosie, one with Jules, one with Jake and Loki, one with Teresa… I think I lost track after a while as it became difficult to determine what was important and what wasn’t. My guess is these are groundwork for more books, but again, I’ve seen no mention of any other books, past or future.
While I just really wasn’t a fan, I think the writing was well done. If this had truly been in a series or connected to other books to where I had the chance to get to the know the characters without them popping up, fully formed in the middle of nothingness, I think I would have been better able to connect with the characters. Same thing with some of the scenarios. If there had been some believable rationale attached that made the situations more believable, I think I would have liked this a whole lot more and is probably the only reason I didn’t give this a straight up didn’t like rating.
On a non-book related note, if you are an author and have a website, you really should have at least one location where you list, oh, I don’t know? The books you have written? Apparently, lack of rationale extends in all directions.
Author: Michael Bailey
Book Name: Looking In
Genre: Romance, LGBT
Blurb: David Barrows world fell apart at the age of eleven after his mother died. Years of physical and emotional abuse followed, leaving him scarred in body and mind, mired in the belief that he is unlovable. He spends his days working in a comic shop, and his nights alone wrestling with the ghosts of his past.
As a Marine, Adam Duncan has sworn to protect and serve, and there is no one he is more protective of than his brother and nephew. When tragedy strikes, threatening the security of his family, his protective instincts kick in. But how can he fight an enemy he can’t see?
David and Adam feel the connection between them, but David has built walls around his heart that no one has bothered to break through, until Adam. Adam can see what a special man David is, and is willing to do whatever it takes to break down those barriers. Can he make David see he doesn’t have to keep living his life…Looking In?
As a debut novel for a new author, this is a decent book. It was a sweet read, but edged just a little too close to being too sweet.
Adam’s character, being a former Marine, doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. Partly because of a complete lack of any kind of emotional trauma after being in the service, in combat, for 15 years. There are allusions to people he knew that had issues, but he was immune to those, apparently.
David’s character kept confusing me because he would seem so utterly withdrawn and broken and messed up and then suddenly he would say or do something that felt way too confident or just didn’t mesh with the brokenness of his character. Both his character flaws and Adam’s came across as flawed in the wrong ways, making them both hard to believe.
My other, big issue, and why I could not rate this any higher were all of the editing mistakes. I hate, hate, HATE having to harp on those issues, because it is beyond impossible to catch them all. But if you have enough and they are just obvious and bad, they yank you right out of the story and you lose whatever emotional flow you had going on. If a story is done incredibly well, it can cover some of those, but not the big ones. If the story is only decent in the first place, those things can really drag it down.
Things like sentence sections being duplicated, obvious sections left out entirely to where you don’t even understand what the sentence said, putting periods in the middle of the thought for a pause instead of commas or ellipses or ANYTHING else to indicate the thought isn’t complete, and typically misused or mistyped words. This book had all of those sprinkled throughout. Sadly, this looks to have gone through both one editor and one proofreader (I double checked the info noting them in the beginning of the book at one point) yet it STILL had all of these problems, so I gotta say, they aren’t all down to the author.
I think one of the main reasons I have such a huge issue with editing problems is the fact that one tiny mistake can entirely change the mood or meaning of a sentence. Enough of those and you can completely misinterpret an author’s intent on character, mood or story development. I think that, at least in part, was why I had some of the issues I did with this story.
I won’t discuss my issues with the ending as it will give things away. Suffice it to say, it didn’t really fit in places, wasn’t enough information in others and the ended with the absolute PERFECT outcome and part of why this was just a bit too sweet for my tastes. So, this was decent and it was sweet. If that is what you like, then this is perfect for you. If you like your characters to be a little bit more developed and full and things to be just a bit more real, then maybe not so much.
Today is a tough day for me emotionally. Back when OC left, Hubby and I struggled a lot with what was okay to do for him if he needed it and what we just could no longer provide. There was no doubt in our minds that it wasn’t very likely that he would ever ask, but it was something we needed to be prepared for anyway. Continue reading “Storm Front”
Blurb: Hannah Cooper’s daughter is leaving for college soon. The change is bittersweet. A single mother since the age of eighteen, Hannah isn’t eager to confront the pain of being alone, but she’s determined not to let her own hang-ups keep Ellen from the future she deserves. As Ellen’s high school graduation approaches, Hannah decides it’s time to return to her roots in Cooper’s Hollow along Virginia’s beautiful and rustic Cub Creek.
With the help of longtime friend Roger Westray, Hannah devotes her energies to building a new house on the site of the old family home, destroyed in a fire more than a decade ago. But Hannah’s entire adult life has revolved around one very big secret. And her new beginning comes with unanticipated risks that will cost her far more than she could have imagined—perhaps more than she can survive.
When a confrontation forces Hannah to expose her secret, the truth may destroy her beloved daughter. Hannah is prepared to sacrifice everything to protect her family, but can their lives and their bond withstand the seismic shift that’s coming?
There are two specific things that kept me from liking this book more. First, this just dragged in the beginning. It took forever to get to a point where I could feel like there was going to be anything of interest going on. I came very close to giving up before I got to the 1/3 mark. It did nothing to grab me and drag me into the story.
The second is partly just me, but I’m sick of seeing stupid lies that could very easily be found out being used as the main premise behind a story. Lies have their place in stories and can do a whole lot of things to move a story and give it a depth you wouldn’t have otherwise. But when the lie is created with zero base in reality, it falls apart with very little effort when someone pokes at it. You do that with your main character, then all of the work you’ve done to create this emotional, deep, layered personality crumbles and all that is left is, “Damn! How stupid can you be?”
That is where I ended up by the time I finished this. I did not like the main character because she came across as just being brainless by the end. I didn’t hate this because I do think the author wrote it well, but I didn’t like the backbone of the story.
My daughter, BG, dances. For her, it is really just about doing something fun. She does most of the options available to her, tap and jazz, but her favorite is ballet. Last year, she got to do pointe for the first time. I was thrilled for her, but found out quickly that, for her, it was probably way more work than what she wanted to put in for something that was just supposed to be fun. After about week 2, she came out of class in tears. Continue reading “Dance Time”
Blurb: Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before.
When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.
But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need, or putting their lives in danger?
The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.
This was truly beautifully done. It explores the darker side of humanity, but still threads it through with touches of warmth. It isn’t light. It isn’t happy, but it is just good.
You do not get a few answers to some secondary, lesser parts to this story, but for this, I was really good with that. Normally, that would irritate or frustrate me, but we rarely ever get all the answers or have things tied up neatly in a bow in real life, so it fits for this.
Every one of the characters feels real. They all have that perfect blend of imperfection and humanity without dropping off into something that feels contrived or forced.
I think one of the reasons why I’m struggling so hard to articulate what I liked about this is that it wasn’t any one single thing or group of things. It was just incredibly well written, on all levels.
Blurb: Xander Griffith was mesmerized by Julian the moment he laid eyes on him in a club; he’s gorgeous, brilliant, and unabashedly himself. But when he discovers Julian is his good friend’s, off-limits, baby brother, he promptly drops Julian off at his parents’ house with a promise to call. Unfortunately, his life took a left-hand turn that night, and Xander was unable to keep that promise. When they meet again months later, they can’t be in the same room without bickering like small children, and both men wonder whether the person they’d fallen for that night was an illusion.
Julian Moore is at loose ends after getting his Master’s: he can’t start his government cybersecurity job until he gets high-level clearance, his boyfriend and best friend are far away, and even his dojo closed down. All the sparkly, snarky white-hat hacker does these days is read M/M romance novels and hang out with his brothers’ friends. Of course, that means bumping into that over-privileged, condescending jerk, Xander, at every freaking turn; the man would be completely insufferable if it wasn’t for his sweet, hat-loving dog, Cassius.
When Xander discovers Julian is deeply depressed, his protective instincts kick in and he puts together a plan to help his friend’s brother fight his way through the murky gloom. The first step? Move the brat into his condo! It seems like the perfect solution: he certainly has plenty of room, it gets Julian out of his parents’ house, his boxer is head-over-paws in love with Julian, and someone has to keep their friend’s pug from destroying all of Xander’s left shoes.
From the moment Julian moves in, his and Xander’s lives fit seamlessly together and both men soon realize their initial attraction may have been stronger, and deeper, than they thought.
I struggled with rating this because there were some good things about it, but in the end I just didn’t like it. There were too many things that annoyed me or threw me out of the story to give it a higher rating.
First (and totally on me), I didn’t realize until I was about a third of the way through and struggling not to be totally confused that the book I thought was book one in this series was actually a short story written in the same world. Reading this before reading that first book left me at a huge disadvantage. While you can technically read this as a stand alone, there are so many references to things that happened in book one (more so than you’d expect since a large portion of this happens alongside the timeline for book one) that it left me lost and not really understanding some of who the different characters were and how they knew or were related to each other.
This had lots of elements that made it funny, but for me, it was so over the top and too much that it became ridiculous instead of quirky. Even when the situations got more serious, the characters were never able to pull off that level of necessary somberness. It became irritating after a while.
Besides feeling lost because I hadn’t read book one, I ended up seriously confused in several places because I just didn’t understand what was going on. It took nearly a full chapter to really understand a 2 line conversation between Xander and Trip about secretly dating, one that gave absolutely no real context, detail or background. I finally understood much later that THEY were supposed to suddenly be secretly dating each other, but I still never fully understood what the hell was going on or why because it just never made a whole lot of sense. Why the hell would Xander do that? There was no real genuine reason expressed other than Trip thought it was a good idea. The whole thing was really kind of stupid, but again, I felt that way because I didn’t get it. I had something similar happen at least 3 different times because there was just not enough information provided or what felt like essential portions of conversations were skipped entirely. Others weren’t to that extreme, but were enough to drag me out of the story over and over.
On a couple of different occasions, a character would speak to or react to another character’s thoughts, thoughts that had not been expressed in any fashion other than the understood fact that it was a thought, as though they’d had a conversation about it. One that annoyed the crap out of me was when Julian is thinking about the whole living situation with Xander as though they’d had this conversation about him moving in, a good paragraph or two before the subject of him moving in came up in an actual, spoken conversation. Throughout this whole book, I was forced to go back and reread sections over and over to try and figure out what I’d missed only to realize that I hadn’t missed anything. It kind of felt at times as though, in the editing process, a paragraph or two accidentally got deleted, but never added back. It felt like chunks were missing or moved around slightly out of order.
It may in part be because of these issues, but I never fully believed any of the characters. Definitely not emotionally. At one point Julian overhears Xander say something about him that, taken out of the context it was said in, as he heard it, should have been emotionally devastating to him, but it ended up being nothing more than a little twinge on his self confidence. The reaction, or lack thereof, to that situation nearly made me stop reading at that point because it was so weird and contradictory to who the Julian character was supposed to be.
Overall, this was a pretty chaotic and confusing read.
Blurb: One thing Liam Turner knows for sure is that he’s not gay—after all, his father makes it very clear he’ll allow no son of his to be gay. And Liam believes it, until a chance meeting with James “Jay” Bell turns Liam’s world upside-down. Jay is vivacious and unabashedly gay—from the tips of his bleached hair to the ends of his polished nails. With a flair for fashion, overreaction, and an inability to cork his verbal diarrhea, Liam believes drama queen Jay must have a screw loose.
An accident as a teenager left Liam with a limp and a fear of driving. He can’t play football anymore either, and that makes him feel like less of a man. But that’s no reason to question his sexuality… unless the accident broke something else inside him. When being with Jay causes Liam’s protective instincts to emerge, Liam starts to believe all he knew in life had been a convenient excuse to stay hidden. From intolerance to confrontations, Liam must learn to overcome his fears—and his father—before he can accept his sexuality and truly love Jay.
This was kind of a three bears kind of book for me in that it was just right. Just the right amount of sweet, without being saccharine or shallow. Just the right amount of funny without being over the top crazy or never serious.
I felt the same about the characters. I absolutely loved Jay and his quirkiness, but he didn’t cross the line into the stereotypical. He had his vulnerabilities without being weak. Liam was this perfect blend of finding himself and going for what he wanted without being either “oh, I’m suddenly gay and everything is perfect and I’m all chill no matter what happens” or all angsty and fighting it, refusing to admit it or accept himself. He had his issues, his struggles, but he dealt with them in a mature way.
I have read a couple of Renae Kaye’s short stories and enjoyed them, but this is the first full length novel and I really loved it. I will definitely be adding move of these to my want to read lists in the future.
Author: Sinéad Moriarty
Book Name: This Child of Mine
Genre: Literature, Family
Rating: Didn’t Like
Blurb: Single mom Anna and her eighteen-year-old daughter Sophie have always got along like two peas in a pod. Anna would do anything for Sophie but what if, years ago, she went too far to protect her?
Teenager Mandy has always worried about her fragile mom, artist Laura. Mandy knows she has never come to terms with the loss of her first child, but her mom won’t speak about it. Is she hiding something, and how much does Mandy want to find out?
When Sophie makes a chance discovery about her mother’s past, her whole life is turned upside-down. And, as she begins a search for the truth, her world collides with Laura’s and Mandy’s. What is the secret that connects their lives? And is the mother-daughter bond strong enough to withstand the devastating truth?
I was a little shocked after reading the last Sinéad Moriarty book to find that I genuinely didn’t like this one. Normally, if I like a book from an author, I will find I like others. Maybe to differing degrees, but still within a similar range. Not so in this case.
The main thing for me was that I could not, in any way like ANY of these characters. Anna was this perfect, infallible person but she never really truly admits to any wrong doing. Laura is a joke, horribly messed up, knows she is horribly messed up, but again it feels like she never takes takes any actual responsibility, not in any real way. Sophie’s reactions just all feel extreme and off for what her history has been. Yes, I could see justification and motivations and all of that. I understood it, but none of it came off as truly believable.
The other thing, and one that nearly killed this book for me, was the constant confusion of which character’s perspective I was reading. Each chapter started with one of the three main characters, as a heading, indicating that chapter was dedicated to that person’s perspective. Then, you are suddenly reading from a different character’s perspective, without warning or obvious shift, sometimes even getting little glimpses from the secondary characters like Mandy or Holly. It was seriously confusing at times. Normally I enjoy multi-perspective books, but when you are expecting one and are suddenly thrust into another it is not only confusing, but it is distracting and takes away from the story.
Between the confusion and the serious lack of likability of any of the characters, I just did not like this one.
It was slightly less than a year ago that OC decided that he wanted a life unhindered by parents and rules. It is past the one year mark since I cut ties with the majority of my family. I have learned a lot in that time. About me. About my kids. About what is important.
I FINALLY have some movement on my project. Some still isn’t great and still frustrating as one of the people I’ve asked to help got back to me, but I didn’t get what I needed, had some questions and things are back to radio silence. Continue reading “Forward Progress”
Another one from a few years ago. I’d wanted to get a shot of a similar moon last night, but with the new houses behind us, I don’t have the same opening to grab the shot I wanted without also getting a huge section of roof as well. That and I’m sure the neighbors would have thought it strange, me out there with my camera on a tripod aimed in the general direction of their back window. Maybe I need to just not care and take the shots anyway.